No More Plants.

We've all been debating “what if there's not enough oil for all of us forever”, and are slowly growing the courage to debate whether we're running out of fresh, uncontaminated water, we're debating global warming, pollution, and a dozen other apocalyptic fears… But I think what it boils down to is us running out of food.

Last year, Russia exported 14 million tons of grain. This year, they anticipate being able to export only 7 million tons. Canada, America, and other major agricultural nations are in a similar position. To make matters worse, not only is production way down for a variety of reasons, but we currently have grain reserves on the planet of less than two months — ie. peak grain. If the same spike happens that we saw in 1973 (which also helped lead to lasting political problems in Africa and Asia), the only other time reserves dropped this low, grain could rise to well over $20 a bushel. To put that into context, it raises the price of a box of breakfast cereal for $5 to over $30*. Similar price increases could happen with anything that uses grain in its production — breads, dairy products, meat, eggs, almost everything. And that says nothing about the fact that in 1973, we weren't dedicating valuable swaths of land to wasteful projects like biofuels. How will your life change if food prices increase five to ten times what they are now?

* Since it's been pointed out by a few people, let me add that I'm aware that a $1 wholesale breakfast cereal is not the same thing as $1 wholesale of raw grain, and in fact it's only a small percentage of the price. But if you don't think you that the price will rise with the price of its most costly ingredient rather than the average, then you're not just kidding yourself, but you're ignoring lessons learned over the last five year's energy prices.

Seriously, when coupled with warming issues, peak oil, and peak water (not enough fresh drinking water), peak grain and peak food — the inability to produce and distribute enough food to everyone to survive — is our real problem. It's not just global warming combined with a few weird winters and summers that's leaving us with a reduced harvest — it's that even in the regions where we can produce the food (America, Canada, northern Europe, and many other areas can output tons of food), we're using a ton of oil in large equipment to produce the crops, we're using aggressive and destructive irrigation techniques, and worst of all, the point of production is very far away from the point of consumption, additionally escalating the price due to shipping costs.

So in short, if we have a bad summer for crops — and that's what most predictions are saying — pricing on nearly everything (even things you might not have considered like organic plastics). The problem gets even worse though. Because both to compensate for the need for more active farmland and during urban sprawl, we're also killing off “natural farmland”, which as I've mentioned before has the secondary result of leading us toward the extinction of bees. It seems like such a little thing, but when you have mass extinctions of insects like we're starting to experience now, the end result is a significant drop in pollination, and yet another massive reduction in the plant life on the surface of the earth.

What's most amazing to me is that as far as I can tell no one is doing anything about it even though it's obvious (hello rolling blackouts across the USA), but I finally realized why — because nothing short of truly exotic technology (zero-point power generation type stuff) or something that's ultimately risky (nuclear) can save our extravagent lifestyles. Biofuels are laughable, and can't even produce 1% of our current fuel needs, and as I've mentioned above, we don't have the grain/corn/soy/etc. to spare anywhere. Wind and solar? Yeah, lets spend billions of dollars to produce millions of dollars worth of energy. The truth that no one seems to get even though it's been said over and over is that we are simply consuming more than is available to us globally, let alone available to us locally.

Did I mention I've been thinking about a Northern property that I could have a big garden on, big enough to root cellar everything I need for the winter, forests and fields to forage for tea, mustard, berries, fruits, and other delicacies, a year-round spring for fresh water, and bear, moose, deer, and small game on the property that I'm perfectly willing to shoot an arrow through and eat if I have to? Hope I can get out of the city before the maurading rape-gangs looking for food and unwilling orifices get me.

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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